OBJECTIVES: To describe communication regarding cancer patient's end-of-life (EoL) wishes by physicians and family caregivers.
METHODS: An online questionnaire and telephone-based surveys were performed with physicians and family caregivers respectively in three teaching hospitals in Colombia which had been involved in the EoL care of cancer patients.
RESULTS: For 138 deceased patients we obtained responses from physicians and family caregivers. In 32 % physicians reported they spoke to the caregiver and in 17 % with the patient regarding EoL decisions. In most cases lacking a conversation, physicians indicated the treatment option was "clearly the best for the patient" or that it was "not necessary to discuss treatment with the patient". Twenty-six percent of the caregivers indicated that someone from the medical team spoke with the patient about treatment, and in 67% who had a conversation, caregivers felt that the provided information was unclear or incomplete. Physicians and family caregivers were aware if the patient had any advance care directive in 6% and 26% of cases, respectively, with low absolute agreement (34%).
CONCLUSIONS: There is a lack of open conversation regarding EoL in patients with advanced cancer with their physicians and family caregivers in Colombia. Communication strategies are urgently needed.